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Peaky Blinders: The Duel

“Why not?”

This season of Peaky Blinders has excelled at cutting some of the excesses of season three, with its global intrigues and dissipated aristocrats. The smaller focus (Small Heath) and tighter timeline (just a few months, I think) have allowed more focus on character, and less on spectacle.

That’s not to say that Peaky Blinders has lost its visual panache. The opening scene of Tommy and the Changretta men in Artillery Square was tense and incredible, right down to the spaghetti western-style close ups of Luca’s and Tommy’s eyes.

Get me closer. Closer!

Too close! Never go full Sergio Leone!

I’m also so impressed by how we got just enough sense of who was where to know when we should worry, and why, as Tommy and the Italians wandered through an improbable number of sheets and some lovely colored glass. (I like to think the laundry was also part of Tommy's plan: "Every day is sheets day! By order of the Peaky Blinders!")

That Moss had yet another turn of heart seems both predictable and like a narrative cheat: Tommy was prepared, as Luca said, and I’m sure he could have inflicted even more damage if given the chance. But Luca lives to scheme another day, and that opens this episode up to a few different elements:

The revelation that Polly wasn’t betraying Tommy. They were scheming to double-cross Luca together! I should have had more faith in Polly, and more distrust of what Steven Knight shows us. I often forget, and shouldn’t, that the entire series started with Tommy tricking an entire neighborhood into thinking a horse was magic.

Lizzie’s revelation to Tommy about her pregnancy. He’s supportive, more or less, so that’s…well, it’s fine. Perhaps I wished for more. (I keep thinking of her line from the season premiere: “Babies make everything better.”)

The revelation that Polly is a magical, royal Roma witch who can’t be killed by Abarama’s knives. Also, their seduction scene was so sweet. How often do we get to see people of a certain age have sexy fun times? (But I don't understand why the rabbit was so sleepy...)

The revelation that Alfie Solomons is probably going to betray Tommy again, although given my track record on guessing who is really doing the betraying, I make no commitment here, and it's not really a surprise that Alfie may or may not betray Tommy, since that happens every season.

Alfie's entire conversation with Luca and Luca’s henchman was hilarious, especially when the henchman said “I’ve heard this is just what he’s like.” People must say very similar things about Alfie quite often. (And let’s take a minute to consider how desperate Luca must be, that he is willing to have his men undergo circumcision to catch Tommy! As Vizzini says, never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.)

The revelation that Tommy has been working for the British army against the Communists for all this time? Or at least for a little time?! He’s in it for the money, of course: sending tanks to various colonies (all of which should tweak our historical antennae for their significance in the upcoming second World War and remind us of what else Vizzini says: Never get involved in a land war in Asia).

Ben Younger is a fun character, and I hope we get to see more of him. The idea of Ada playing a spy is also fairly delightful, although it may be safer for her just to go back to Boston, America once this whole Changretta thing gets sorted out.

There’s also the not-quite-a-revelation that Jessie Eden may be trying to turn Tommy as much as he is trying to turn her. According to Wikipedia, people who knew Jessie Eden objected to this sexualization of her character, so we can assume some artistic license here. Tommy thought he was seducing Jessie, but she withheld sex until he got her what she wanted. She’s not as complicated as Tommy, but she knows how to hold her own.

None of these plots really gets resolved, although they all indicate that, despite the more local focus in the past few episodes, the events of the world are still happening, in both the colonies and in England. Tommy has his hands in all of those events, of course (because why not?), although we don’t know how many of them will pan out for our plucky band of criminals.

We do know, though, that this boxing match is probably going to be significant. Right?

Three out of four romantic and popular gramophone records, courtesy of Curly.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Have to love a review with references to The Princess Bride and Hamilton. :)

    I was actually relieved that he and Polly planned the whole thing. Of course they did.

    And Hardy keeps making me laugh.

  2. Yes, I was glad to see that Polly hadn't actually betrayed. I was having trouble believing she would, but I had trouble believing her confession to a priest last season. Polly may be pissed with Tommy, but he's still family.

  3. It's hard to express my glee when I realized that I could work in that Princess Bride quote in a fairly natural way.

    Magritte, I still struggle with Polly's confession last season. I'm glad she didn't betray Tommy this time.


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